test for the 5 and 6 inch baits and 25 lb test for the bigger baits. You can use a standard 200 series reel for the 5 and 6 inch baits but once you start getting into the 7 and 8 inch baits, I would recommend stepping up to a Calcutta TE 300 or 400 or a Curado 300 to handle these heavier lures.
As for strategies, being a spotted bass guide I try to remain versatile. I’m probably the only guy that I know who uses Humminbird Side Imaging for deep swimbait applications. I custom weight a lot of my baits to get down to deeper depths for sh that are suspended whether it be over the thermocline or even on shing cables that anchor marinas in place. Most of my suspended shing occurs in the summer and early autumn when the thermo- cline is in place. But for spring and the late fall, I sh many different types of situations. One of my favorite ways is for schooling sh. Usually in a schooling situation you have a bunch of small sh herding shad with a big sh hanging below them. What happens with most anglers is they throw ordinary size baits at the schoolers and catch average size sh. What I do is to throw a big 7 or 8 inch Bull Shad right through the middle of the schoolers and that discourages the 2 to 3lbers so that the 4 to 6 lb spots get a shot at it. It doesn’t always work that way meaning I do catch a lot of 2 lb sh on 8 inch swimbaits, but it does reduce my take of the smaller sh and that increases my chances at the bigger sh.
I also like shing my swimbaits around heavy cover in the form of laydowns just like you do a spinnerbait. Obviously you need to be extremely accurate with casting to prevent hang-ups. Having said that, I am already working on a new style of swimbait for this very application. The trick to shing laydowns is to make long casts. Big spots like to hang out at the very end of the laydown in the deepest water. So if you are too close to the laydown with your boat positioning in most cases all you will see is a big spot following your bait versus seeing a big spot in your livewell. Boat positioning and swimbaits are extremely crucial. You are going to get followers that won’t bite when shing swimbaits. But if you po- sition your boat further away from where the sh are holding, you can get those followers to commit easier by not allowing them to see you or your boat while they’re following. That there is one of the best lessons I ever learned about shing swimbaits. Always be aware of your boat position in relation to where you feel the sh are holding. If you are working a laydown, make 40 yard plus accurate casts landing well beyond the target and giving the sh plenty of room to commit while following your offering. In this way, a follower won’t run out of water (reach the boat) too quickly. BWU